Health

Affordable Care Act
9:33 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Obamacare Marketplace Open in Texas: How to Enroll, Where to Get Help

The federal health insurance marketplace opens today.
healthcare.gov

Today marks the opening of the Affordable Care Act’s federal health insurance marketplace – healthcare.gov.

Beginning today, consumers can begin purchasing health insurance plans, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. It’s a signature component of the insurance changes collectively known as "Obamacare."

KUT has been covering the run-up to today’s marketplace opening. Here’s some answers to common questions about the marketplace: the types of coverage offered, how to navigate the marketplace and more, including an interactive guide.

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Affordable Care Act
8:31 am
Tue October 1, 2013

LISTEN: Profiles of Uninsured in Texas as Marketplace Opens

Paula Phillips of San Marcos lacks health insurance and struggles to put money aside for medical bills. She may not qualify for a health insurance tax credit and is too young for Medicare.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Central Texas has more than 100,000 uninsured people – some of whom may decide to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace that launches today.

On the player below, listen to interviews with three Central Texans who are uninsured – about their health care situation – and what they might do as the Affordable Care Act takes effect.

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Affordable Care Act
6:30 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Texas 'Obamacare' Navigators at Center of Dispute (Update)

On Sept. 30, 2013, the Texas Department of Insurance expects to begin the process of writing new rules that add extra training for health care navigators, despite training enforced by the federal government.

Update: The Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplace opens tomorrow. Insurance navigators will be available in certain parts of the state to help Texans sort through coverage options. But Gov. Rick Perry wants navigators in Texas to have extra training. Gov. Perry proposes to require 40 hours of training on top of what’s mandated by the federal government.

The Texas Department of Insurance hosted a public meeting in Austin this morning to get feedback on that rule and others. The meeting took place  in the Hobby Building on Guadalupe Street.

Original post (Sept. 24): Next week, the Texas Department of Insurance expects to begin the process of writing new rules that add extra training for health care navigators. Those are the workers who are supposed to help people shop on the new insurance marketplace.

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Affordable Care Act
9:02 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Houston Gears Up For Obamacare, Despite GOP Opposition

Enroll America outreach worker Rosy Mota (right) talks about the federal health care law with a CVS customer.
Carrie Feibel

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:26 am

Two high-profile Texans are fighting the Affordable Care Act.

Gov. Rick Perry has loudly dismissed the law, and fellow Republican Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor this week to rail against it at length — 21 hours and 19 minutes to be exact.

On the other side of the issue, you have Rosy Mota and her clipboard, standing at the door of a CVS pharmacy in one of Houston's Latino neighborhoods, stopping shoppers.

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Tobacco Tax
12:13 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Smoking Study Suggests Tobacco Tax Could Fund Texas Preschools

A new study suggests a 94-cent tax hike on cigarettes would help fund Texas preschools.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Results of a new study by Gallup suggest smoking causes U.S. employers to lose $278 billion annually. That's due to smokers missing work for smoke breaks and because of additional health care costs compared to employees who don't smoke.

The data comes a day after another study, "Raising Smart, Healthy Kids in Every State" was released. It argues states would benefit from a 94-cent tax hike on cigarettes, as proposed by President Barack Obama. 

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Affordable Care Act
9:04 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Texas Parents May Soon Find Cheaper Health Insurance for Children

The new federal healthcare marketplace opening Oct. 1 could help families struggling to cover their children finally find an affordable plan.
flickr.com/hocolibrary

The new federal healthcare marketplace opening Oct. 1 could help families struggling to cover their children finally find an affordable plan. But the marketplace could also become a safety net for families on the verge of earning just enough to kick their children off of the current state and federally subsidized healthcare plans.

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UT Medical School
4:53 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

How Race & Ethnicity Could Help Shape UT's Medical School Curriculum

Health advocates argue UT's Dell Medical School should offer a curriculum that factors in societal issues.
Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

When the University of Texas’ new Dell Medical School opens its doors in 2016, it will be the first new medical school at a leading research university in over fifty years. And its creation offers significant possibilities for doctors, educators and public health advocates. 

“We see this as an exciting opportunity to rethink medical education from the ground up,” says New York University professor Helena Hansen, one of the participants at this week’s conference on racial and ethnic health disparities. “Because you’re starting a program from scratch here in Austin, you can think very big.” 

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Affordable Care Act
11:09 am
Wed September 25, 2013

With A Call For Prayer, Cruz Wraps Up Protest Against Obamacare

Sen. Ted Cruz's anti-Obamacare strategy seemed to fall flat Tuesday with many of his fellow Senate Republicans. They urged him to back down out of concern over a possible government shutdown next week.
C-SPAN.org screen shot

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 12:17 pm

Update at noon ET. It's Over:

Saying that "it's fitting that this debate concludes with a prayer" because he believes Americans are pleading with Congress to defund President Obama's health care law, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas just wrapped up his marathon protest on the Senate floor.

Cruz began speaking just after 2:40 p.m. ET Tuesday and abided by Senate rules when he finished at noon today.

"The pleas from the American people," he said of what he sees as the public's opposition to Obamacare, "are deafening."

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Affordable Care Act
7:59 am
Wed September 25, 2013

See the First Austin Prices for Health Insurance in the 'Obamacare' Marketplace

The federal government says, for the most part, the cost of premiums for both individuals and families will drop from current rates.
Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released preliminary costs for health insurance in the marketplaces opened under the Affordable Care Act.

The marketplaces are slated to open Oct. 1. These numbers are expected to change in the coming months after the marketplaces open, and before the Affordable Care Act goes into effect on Jan. 1.

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Affordable Care Act
4:32 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

This Austin Group Helps You Navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace

Congressman Lloyd Doggett spoke on Sept. 24, 2013 at a center run by Foundation Communities, where certified application counselors will help consumers with questions about the federal health insurance marketplace.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

In a former storefront in Central Austin’s Highland Mall, a health care enrollment center is getting set up.

It’s one of dozens of centers in Texas where certified application counselors will help answer people's questions about buying health insurance via the new federal marketplace. 

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Affordable Care Act
11:38 am
Mon September 23, 2013

How Federal Regulations Will Affect Health Insurance Costs in Texas

Texas has declined to implement the marketplace itself, but new regulations of insurance plans – and their rates – will still be in effect here.
flickr.com/trp0

By October 1, we should know how much health insurance plans purchased through the new federal marketplace will cost.

Texas has declined to implement the marketplace itself, but new regulations of insurance plans and their rates will still be in effect here. So if you plan to buy insurance through the marketplace when it launches next week, Lisa McAdams with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services in Dallas suggests you keep the following two things in mind:

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Affordable Care Act
4:27 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Have Health Insurance Questions? Here's Where Texans Can Find Answers

Enroll America's Kenneth Flippin, left, and Jane Denson, right, knocked on the door of Shelby Childress on Sept. 7, 2013 in Austin.
Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

As the Oct. 1 launch of the federal health insurance marketplace nears, people may have questions about how it works.

Some Texans may get a visit from volunteers – such as those with the Get Covered America campaign of Enroll America  – going door to door to answer those questions. But consumers can also turn to counselors, websites and phone numbers for answers. 

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Agenda Texas
9:33 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Women's Clinic Closed in Wake of Texas Law Offered More Than Abortions

Cadence King stands at the gate of the now closed Planned Parenthood clinic in Bryan.
Ben Philpott for KUT News

A handful of clinics in Texas have closed, or are planning to, just weeks after a controversial bill restricting abortions passed the state legislature.

Planned Parenthood says the closures will hurt the women who came to the clinics for general healthcare services. Anti-abortion groups say there are other doctors for the women to go to. So who's right?

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Health
10:25 am
Fri September 13, 2013

E-Cigarettes Taking Off In Texas

In Texas, it really is the Wild West for electronic cigarettes. Without clear guidelines on where you can use them, it’s inhale before inquire.
Shutterstock

You won’t find the Marlboro Man pushing tobacco on TV anymore, but you will find other familiar faces flaunting electronic cigarettes. Celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, Stephen Dorff and Courtney Love have signed on to pitch the devices, and national sales of e-cigarettes have caught fire.

In North Texas, e-cigarettes are big business, even though physicians worry they aren’t as benign as we’re being told. There are very few rules on where you can use them, so usually, it’s inhale before you inquire.

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8:16 am
Fri September 6, 2013

Four Abortion Clinics Close In Wake Of Texas' New Regulations

Lead in text: 
Four abortion clinics are preparing to close in the coming months as a result of stricter requirements imposed by a new state law regulating abortion. The Dallas Morning News reports that one of the main obstacles the clinics face is a requirement that doctors who perform the procedure obtain admitting privileges at hospitals. The clinics that will close are in Bryan, Harlingen, San Angelo and Midland. Two others closed earlier this year.
AUSTIN - At least four abortion clinics in rural Texas and possibly three more are preparing to close, hobbled by a state law that requires the clinics to meet tougher medical standards.

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